Oct 05 2007
Dorrie and I recently (two weekends ago) spent a long weekend at a guest ranch at Steamboat Lake. We brought along our greyhound, Cash, for his first trip away from his new home and his beloved crate. Cash was fantastic, as was our long weekend. Here’s the scoop on the trip:
I’ll cut to the chase and give you the photos first. Notice the snazzy Flash gallery. I’m using some snazzy photo processing software to do all of my image processing and managing of my photo library. It makes it really easy to create galleries like this. I like it a lot. Also note that these are all family vacation snapshots, not photos that I would post on my photoblog. I’ve posted processed images on the photoblog that you should check out.
Dutch Creek Ranch
Dutch Creek Guest Ranch (http://www.dutchcreek.net/) was great. It’s a small ranch with a nice lodge right near the entrance to Steamboat Lake State Park. Obviously, there are horses. Lots of horses. We didn’t ride or have anything to do with the horses, though (other than photographing them). We mainly hung out in our cabin and read.
The cabins are great. Ours had two bedrooms, a full kitchen, a dining area, a living room, two full baths and a nice deck with a swing. It was basically a small house. The view from our cabin was fantastic. The only complaint is that the water comes from a well and contains a lot of sulfur. Sulfur is harmless, but it gave the water a murky yellow tint and it smelled bad. The toilets had that permanent look like someone had peed and not flushed. It was fine for showering though, and there was a water cooler in the cabin so we had plenty of clear water for cooking and drinking.
The lodge served breakfast in morning and dinner in the evenings. For being so small, you would be surprised at how good the food was. It wasn’t fine dining, but it was good enough to look forward to. Dorrie and I ate in the lodge only a few times in our three full days there. We prepared most of our meals ourselves in our cabin.
On the drive up, there was one particular mountain that caught my eye. This was the transaction that occurred between me and Dorrie regarding that mountain:
Mike: Hey, see that mountain? That’s Nipple Peak.
Dorrie: No way. Really? I don’t believe you. Stop being gross.
[A few minutes pass.]
Mike: Check the map. How much further is Steamboat Lake?
Dorrie: We’re about 20 minutes away.
Dorrie: OMIGOD. It is called Nipple Peak.
It really is. No kidding.
Hmmm… Steamboat Lake. We saw it. That is, we could see it from the ranch and I’m sure it’s really nice. But we never bothered to go to it. You see, we were too busy not doing things. It was rare for us to get more than a couple hundred yards from our cabin. We made an adventure of nearby Pearl Lake one afternoon, though.
This is a beautiful lake. It’s small. You could probably hike around the entire perimeter in about 90 minutes. The lake is nestled between several small mountains. This is the place to be during camping season. Motorized vehicles are prohibited both in the park and on the lake. It looked like some guys were catching lots of fish, too. We spent a couple hours here scouting out things to photograph when the light was better. I could have stayed there all day and night, but Dorrie had to pee. We didn’t make it back to shoot photos, but we will one day.
There was a lot of reading going on between me and Dorrie. We must have brought about 20 pounds of reading material between the two of us. I actually finished an entire book (Speaker for the Dead) while I was there. For me that’s remarkable since I’m such a slow reader.
Mountain Pine Beetle
I knew that the pine forests of the Rockies were in serious trouble because of the pine beetle. I had no idea how bad it was until I saw it. It’s truly unbelievable the devastation that has already occurred. There were maybe a half dozen stretches on our trip from Denver to Steamboat Lake where there weren’t patches of brown, dead trees pines. There isn’t really a practical solution to stop the devastation. We can only hope for a very deep freeze in early fall (right now) to help slow the spread of the beetle. It’s hard to believe that our pine forests may be gone in a matter of a decade or so.
If you haven’t already, take a look a the slideshow. All those brown trees are pine beetle vicitims.
Emma, the Mountain Lion
I was heading over to the pond to photograph in the golden hour of sunlight when a neighboring vacationer asked me how good my lens was. I wasn’t quite sure what he was getting at, being that he was just standing on the dirt path drinking a Budweiser while staring off into the distance. He let me in on the secret that there was a mountain lion cub laying down in the grass near where I was headed. It was a good thing he told me before I stepped on its tail and was attacked. Dorrie, Cash and I spent the next half hour on this neighbors cabin deck photographing the mountain lion hunt (and catch) mice. I didn’t have the right gear to get any great shots, but I got good enough shots to post here.
Photographing in the Rain
Thank the dear Bejeezus for rain. We love rain. And we got our wish of getting a nice steady rain for an entire day so we would have a good excuse to not go anywhere (as if we really needed one). I did actually suit up to see what kind of moody pictures I could make in the weather. Before I ventured out of the cabin, I set up my camera on the tripod, attached my shutter release and got the entire thing ready as if I were going to photograph inside the cabin. Then, I unpacked the handy, 50-cent rain poncho that my dad sent to me a couple years ago. I had it stowed away in my camera bag for an occasion like this. I used the poncho as a raincoat for my camera equipment. I just wrapped the camera and the attached accessories in the poncho, pulled the rain slip of my camera backpack over the backpack, put on my own raincoat and hiked around the ranch. I didn’t get any spectacular photos, but it felt nice walking around in the rain and picking out moody scenes to shoot.
The Ride Home/First Snow
It was still raining on our last morning at Dutch Creek Ranch. On our way back, on Rabbit Ears Pass, we broke the low clouds and had some spectacular views of the valleys along the pass. It would have made for great photography but I was too anxious to get home and, when we did stop to shoot, I didn’t feel like taking the necessary time to photograph correctly. The remarkable thing about our trip home over Rabbit Ears and Berthoud Passes was that there was a light dusting of snow on the mountains and a little slush along the sides of the roads. Winter is right around the corner, and I can’t wait for it to get here.